Whether it is a success or not, a resolution is designed to inspire growth. Ideally, once you’ve succeeded, you’re a better person. Or, if nothing else, the process changes you. What do they say? “It’s the journey, not the destination.” For me, running is a lot like a resolution. Ideally, I’ll be a healthier, stronger person after accomplishing a goal – or a single run – but it’s the journey that moves me. So, for 2016, I decided to accept a challenge presented by www.ilovetorun.org and run 1,000 miles this year. This article will serve as a pedometer, of sorts, for you to follow me on my journey as well as a place for us to share the thoughts and ideas inspired by each mile.
The best way to begin, I think, is to tell you my “runner’s story” and to point out that I am in no way more physically athletic than you. I mean it! In fact, a large part of why I began running is to be active without actually having to try too hard – there’s irony in that statement, but we’ll get to that later. People think that distance runners are crazy. Generally, we take that as a compliment but I’m here to tell you we’re not. We’re just never satisfied [disclaimer: I do not speak for all distance runners; there are many species within our family]. From the day we accomplished our first PR, or personal record we developed a hunger. Not unlike a serial killer after his first slaughter, though that probably doesn’t help my crazy defense, so let’s move on. From that day forward, we just wanted to go faster or farther or both. We are constantly seeking new ways to challenge and surprise ourselves. There’s probably a psychological term for people like us but that, also, does not support my complete sanity theorem.
For me, running is a parallel to life. You may remember I ran my first Half Marathon during my 365 Challenge three years ago upon the urging of an old roommate. She thrust me in to training as post break-up therapy. After training and the first Half had past, I felt changed. I felt capable and competent. I felt like this was something I would have to do to ensure my happiness for – like – ever (cross your fingers that I make the list for those bionic knees). The more I ran, the more I was sure of myself. The more I made running a part of who I am and my everyday life, the more alive I felt. Don’t get me wrong, some days just making the bed makes me feel alive. Some days, that’s all the world is getting out of me. But on the days when I run, the world gets a lot more from me; radiance, happiness, rambling articles and blog posts. I can take whatever it throws at me because, yea, I just ran X number of miles. Generally, I ran those miles most of the time fairly certain that I couldn’t, but then I did. And that’s life, baby. Plain and simple: doing it when you don’t think you can.
I’ve got this challenge now, another thing to prove to myself – and to you, now that you’re in on it – and I want to share it with you. I want you to experience the wacky ups and downs and twists and turns that will be my route through this next year. A big part of running for me is the mental aspect: the pep talks and conversations with myself. The ruminations this column was invented to share. The funny thing about thinking while I run is that sometimes my mind is focused on one thing in my life and sometimes it wanders like a butterfly with seemingly no purpose. A lot of the time, I’m like that dog from Up, where I’m talking with a running buddy (who is very often myself and, yes, I talk aloud), but then I see an actual squirrel and I’m like, “gee, his tail is fluffy” or “wow, he’s way faster than me” or “I wonder where he hides his nuts,” which often leads to a completely different train of thought but that’s for another time, too. Finally, there are the times where I realize that several miles have passed and I’m not entirely sure I’ve thought of anything – this is particularly frustrating when I’m using the run for problem solving or writer’s block. The point of saying all this is that over the course of 1,000 miles, I can make no promises about what, if anything, I’ll come up with to write for you. I know I’m going to do my best to ensure this is not a billboard for running, however, I will continue to share the multitude of lessons I’ve learned from running. The bottom line is, you’re invited on this adventure with me. Whether, you choose to embark on a challenge of your own or simply follow my progress, I look forward to spending the year with you. On your marks!
Goal for 2016: 1,000 miles
Year to date: 13 miles
Miles to go: 987 miles